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PART TWO  

(Continued)  

 

 


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2. 

 

THE SPIRIT AND FORM OF THE  



BAHA’I ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER  

“And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought 

and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centers of activity, 

upholding and promoting their interests with coin plete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, 

genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountain-head 

from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must 

ultimately rest.”— SHOGHI EFFENDI.  

FOREWORD  

THE 


1926-27 National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States and Canada completed a task which, 

while pertaining to the outer and more material aspects of the Cause, nevertheless has a special significance for its spirit 

and inward sacred purpose. This task consisted in creating in a legal form which gives proper substance and substantial 

character to the administrative processes embodied in the Bahá’i Teachings. The form adopted was that known as a 

Voluntary Trust, a species of corporation recognized under the common law and possessing a long and interesting 

history. The famous Covenant adopted by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower, the first legal document in American 

history, is of the same nature as the Declaration of Trust voted by the National Spiritual Assembly. This Declaration of 

Trust, with its attendant By-Laws, is published for the information of the Bahã’is of the world. Careful examination of 

the Declaration and its By-Laws will reveal the fact that this document contains no arbitrary elements nor features new 

to the Bahá’i Cause. On the contrary, it represents a most conscientious effort to reflect those very administrative 

principles and elements already set forth in the letters of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and already determining the 

 

methods and relationships of Bahl’i collective association. The provision both in the Declaration and in the By-Laws for amendments 



in the future will permit the National Spiritual Assembly to adapt this document to such new administrative elements or principles as 

the Guardian may at any time give forth. The Declaration, in fact, is nothing more or less than a legal parallel of those moral and 

spiritual laws of unity inherent in the fullness of the Bahá’i Revelation and making it the fulfillment of the ideal of Religion in the 

social as well as spiritual realm. Because, in the Bahá’i Faith this perfect correspondence exists between spiritual and social laws, the 

Bahã’is believe that administrative success is identical with moral success; and that nothing less than the true Bahá’i spirit of devotion 

and sacrifice can inspire with effective power the world-wide body of unity, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. Therefore it has seemed fitting 

and proper to accompany the Declaration of Trust with excerpts from the letters of Shoghi Effendi which furnished the source whence 

the provisions of the Declaration were drawn, and which furthermore give due emphasis to that essential spirit without which any and 

every social or religious form is but a dead and soulless body.  

HORACE HOLLEY. 

 

361 

 

362 


 

 



THE BAHA’ WORLD 

 



 

 



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DEPARTMENT 

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Certification of Declaration of Trust of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is  



of the United States and Canada. 

 

 



 

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THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 33 

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Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States 



and Canada. 

 

 



 

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364 

THE BAHA’I WORLD  



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DECLARATION OF TRUST  

By the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States and Canada  

We, Allen B. McDaniel of Washington, D. C., Horace Holley of New York City, N. Y., Carl Scheffler of 

Evanston, Ill., Roy C. Wilhelm of West Englewood, N. 

J., 

Florence Morton of Worcester, Mass., Amelia 



Collins of Princeton, Mass., Ali-Kuli Khan of New York City, N. Y., Mountfort Mills of New York City, 

N. Y., and Siegfried Schopflocher of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, duly chosen by the representatives of the 

Bahá’is of the United States and Canada at the Annual Meeting held at San Francisco, Calif., on April 

29, 

April 


30, 

May 


i, 

and May 


2, 1926, 

to be the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States 

and Canada, with full power to establish a Trust as hereinafter set forth, hereby declare that from this date 

the powers, responsibilities, rights, privileges and obligations reposed in said National Spiritual Assembly 

of the Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’i Faith, by ‘Abdu’I-

Bahá, its Interpreter and Exemplar, and by Shoghi Effendi, its Guardian, shall be exercised, administered 

and carried on by the above-named National Spiritual Assembly and their duly qualified successors under 

this Declaration of Trust.  

The National Spiritual Assembly in adopting this form of association, union and fellowship, and in 

selecting for itself the designation of Trustees of the Bahá’js of the United States and Canada, does so as 

the administrative body of a religious community which has had continuous existence and responsibility for 

over, eighteen years. In consequence of these activities the National Spiritual Assembly is called upon to 

administer such an ever-increasing diversity and volume of affairs and properties for the Bahá’is of the 

United States and Canada, that we, its members, now feel it both desirable and necessary to give our 

collective functions more definite legal form. This action is taken in complete unanimity and with full 

recognition of the sacred relationship thereby created. We acknowledge in behalf of ourselves and our 

successors in this Trust the exalted religious standard established by Bahã’u’lláh for Bahâ’i administrative 

bodies in the 

 

THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 365  



utterance: “Be ye Trustees of 11w Merciful One among men”; and seek the help of God and His guidance 

in order to fulfil that exhortation.  

Article I  

The name of said Trust shall be the National Spiritual Assenthly of the Bahd’is of the United States and 



Canada.  

Article II  

Sharing the ideals and assisting the efforts of our fellow Bahâ’is to establish, uphold and promote the 

spiritual, educational and humanitarian teachings of human brotherhood, radiant faith, exalted character and 

selfless love revealed in the lives and utterances of all the Prophets and Messengers of God, Founders of 

the world’s revealed religions—and given renewed creative energy and uniersal application to the 

conditions of this age in the life and utterances of Bahá’u’llâh—we declare the purposes and objects of this 

Trust to be to administer the affairs of the Cause of Bahâ’u’lláh for the benefit of the Bahã’is of the United 

States and Canada according to the principles of Bahá’i affiliation and administration created and 

established by Bahá’u’lláh, defined and explained by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and amplified and applied by Shoghi 

Effendi and his duly constituted successor and successors under the provision of the Will and Testament of 

‘Abdu’lBahâ.  

These purposes are to be realized by means of devotional meetings; by public meetings and conferences of 

an educational, humanitarian and spiritual character; by the publication of books, magazines and 

newspapers; by the construction of temples of universal worship and of other institutions and edifices for 

humanitarian service; by supervising, unifying, promoting and generally administering the activities of the 

Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada in the fulfilment of thcir religious offices, duties and ideals; and by 

any other means appropriate to these ends, or any of them.  

Other purposes and objects of this Trust are:  

a. The right to enter into, make, perform and carry out contracts of every sort and kind for the furtherance 



of the objects of this Trust with any person, firm, association, corporation, private, public or municipal or 

body politic, or any state, territory or colony thereof, or any foreign government; and in this connection, 

and in all transactions under the terms of this 

 

366 

THE BAHA’I WORLD  

Trust, to do any and all things which a co-partnership or  

natural person could do or exercise, and which now or here afte may be authorized by law.  

b. To hold and be named as beneficiary under any trust estab lishe by law or otherwise or under any will or 

other testa mentar instrument in connection with any gift, devise, or  

bequest in which a trust or trusts is or are established in any  

part of the world as well as in the United States and Canada; to  

receive gifts, devises or bequests of money or other property.  

c. All and whatsoever the several purposes and objects set forth  

in the written utterances of Bahá’u’llâh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and  

Shoghi Effendi, under which certain jurisdiction, powers and  

rights are granted to National Spiritual Assemblies.  

d. Generally to do all things and acts which in the judgment of  

said Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly of the  

Bahá’is of the United States and Canada, are necessary, proper  

and advantageous to promote the complete and successful ad ministratio of this Trust.  

Article 

III  

Section z. All persons, firms, corporations and associations extending, credit to, contracting with or having 

any claim against the Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, and the members thereof, of any 

character whatsoever, whether legal or equitable and whether arising out of contract or tort, shall look 

solely to the funds of the Trust and to the property of the Trust estate for payment or indemnity, or for the 

payment of any debt, damage, judgment or decree or any money that may otherwise become due or payable 

from the Trustees, so that neither the Trustees nor any of them, nor any of their officers or agents appointed 

by them hereunder, nor any beneficiary or beneficiaries herein named shall be personally liable there for.  

Section 

2. 

Every note, bond, proposal, obligation or contract in writing or other agreement or instrument 

made or given under this Trust shall be explicitly executed by the National Spiritual Assembly, as Trustees 

by their duly authorized officers or agents.  



Article IV  

The Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, shall adopt for the conduct of the affairs entrusted to 

them under this Declaration of 

 

THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 367  



Trust, such by-laws, rules of procedure or regulations as are required to define and carry on its own’administrative 

functions and those of the several local and other elements composing the body of the Bahá’is of the United States and 

Canada, not inconsistent with the terms of this instrument and all in accordance with the explicit instructions given us 

to date by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, which instructions are already known to the Bahá’is 

of the United States and Canada and accepted by them in the government and practice of their religious affairs.  

Article V  

The central office of this Trust shall be located in the City of New York, State of New York, United States of America.  

Article VI  

The seal of this Trust shall be circular in form, bearing the following description:  

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada. Declaration of Trust, 1927.  

Article VII  

This Declaration of Trust may be amended by majority vote of the National Spiritual Assemb’y of the Bahá’is of the 

United States and Canada at any special meeting duly called for that purpose, provided that at least thirty (30) days 

prior to the date fixed for said meeting a copy of the proposed amendment or amendments is mailed to each member of 

the Assembly by the Secretary.  

Art. V amended to read 

“. . . 

located in the Village of Wilniette, Illinois, the site of the Bahf’i House of Worship.” 



 

368 THE BAHA’i WORLD  

BY-LAWS OF THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY  

Article I  

The National Spiritual Assembly, in the fulfilment of its sacred duties under this Trust, shall have exclusive jurisdiction 


and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá’i Cause throughout the United States and Canada, including 

paramQunt authority in the administration of this Trust. It shall endeavor to stimulate, unify and coordinate the 

manifold activities of the local Spiritual Assemblies (hereinafter defined) and of individual Bahfl’is in the United States 

and Canada and by all possible means assist them to promote the oneness of mankind. It shall be charged with the 

recognition of such local Assemblies, the scrutiny of local membership rolls, the calling of the Annual Meeting or 

special meetings and the seating of delegates to the Annual Meeting and their apportionment among the various local 

Bahfl’i communities. It shall appoint all national Bahá’i committees and shall supervise the publication and distribution 

of Bahá’i literature; the reviewing of all writings pertaining to the Bahâ’i Cause, the construction and administration of 

the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its accessory activities, and the collection and disbursement of all funds for the carrying on 

of this Trust. It shall decide whether any matter lies within its own jurisdiction or within th jurisdiction of any local 

Spiritual Assembly. It shall, in such cases as it considers suitable and necessary, entertain appeals from the decisions of 

local Spiritual Assemblies and shall have the right of final decision in all cases where the qualification of an individual 

or group for continued voting rights and membership in tl-ie Bahá’i body is in question. It shall furthermore represent 

the Bahfl’is of the United States and Canada in all their cooperative and spiritual activities with the ]3ahá’is of other 

lands, and shall constitute the sole electoral body of the United States and Canada in the formation of the Universal 

House of Justice provided for in 



the 

Sacred Writings of the Bahá’i Cause. Above all, the National Spiritual Assembly 

shall ever seek td attain that station of unity in devotion to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh which will attract the 

confirmations of the Holy Spirit and enable the Assembly to serve 



the 

founding of the Most Great Peace. In all its 

deliberation and action  

For amendments made to April 

20, 1940, 

see notes at foot of pages 

370, 373, 374, 375. 

 

THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 



369  

the National Assembly shall have constantly before it as Divine guide and standard the utterance of 

Bahá’u’lláh 

:—  


“It behooveth them (i.e., Spiritual Assemblies) to b the trusted  

ones of the Merciful among men and to consider themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that 

dwelt on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the 

servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and 

seemly.”  

Article II  

The Bahá’is of the United States and Canada, for whose benefit this Trust has heen established, shall 

consist of all persons resident in the United States and Canada who are recognized by the National Spiritual 

Assembly as having fulfilled the requirements of voting membership in a local Bahâ’i community. To 

become a voting member of a Bahá’i community a person shall  

a. Be a resident of the locality defined by the area of jurisdiction of the local Spiritual Assembly, as 

provided by Article VII, Section 



12, 

of this instrument.  

b. Have attained the ages of 

21 

years.  


c. Have established to the satisfaction of the local Spiritual Assembly, subject to the approval of the 

National Assembly, that he possesses the qualifications of Bahâ’i faith and practice required under the 

following standard: Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner (the Báb), the Author (Bahâ’u’llãh), 

and ‘Abdu’l-Bahã the True Exemplar of te Bahá’i Cause: unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, 

whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of Abdu’l-Bahâ’s 

sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of present-day Bahâ’i administration 

throughout the world.  

Article III  

The National Assembly shall consist of nine members chosen from among the Bahá’is of the United States 

and Canada, who shall be elected by the said Bahá’is in manner hereinafter provided, and who shall 

continue in office for the period of one year, or until their successors shall be elected. 

 

370 THE BAHA’f WORLD  



Article 

IV  

The officers of the National Spiritual Assembly shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, 

and such other officers as may be found necessary for the proper conduct of its affairs. The officers shall be elected by 

a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot.  

Article V  

The first meeting of a newly-elected National Assembly shall be called by the member elected to membership by the 

highest number of votes or, in case two or more members have received the same said highest number of votes, then by 

the member selected by lot from among those members; and this member shall preside until the permanent Chairman 



shall be chosen. All subsequent meetings shall be called by the Secretary of the Assembly at the request of the 

Chairman or, in his absence or incapacity, of the Vice-Chairman, or of any three members of the Assembly; provided, 

however, that the Annual Meeting of the Assembly shall be held at a time and place to be fixed by a majority vote of 

the Assembly, as hereinafter provided.  

Article 

VI  

Five members of the National Assembly present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of those 

present and constituting a quorum shall be sufficient for the conduct of business, except as otherwise provided in these 

By-Laws, and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual 

Assembly. The transactions and decisions of the National Assembly shall be recorded at each meeting by the Secretary, 

who shall supply copies of the minutes to the Assembly members after each meeting, and preserve the minutes in the 

official records of the Assembly.  

Article 


VII  

Whenever in any locality of the United States and Canada, be it city, town or village, the number of Bahâ’is resident 

therein recognized by the National Spiritual Assemlily exceeds nine, these may on April 21st of any year convene and 

elect by plurality vote a local administrative body of nine members, to be known as the Spiritual AsArticle IV, 

amended to read 

“. . . 


by a majority vote of the Assembly taken by secret  

ballot.” 

 

THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 371  



sembly of the Bahá’is of that community. Every such Spiritual Assembly shall be elected annuaily thereafter upon each 

successive 21st day of April. The members shall hold office for the term of one year and until their successors are 

elected and qualified.  

When, however, the number of Bahá’is in any community is exactly nine, these may on April 21st of any year, or in 

successive years, constitute themselves the local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such 

declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the 

rights, privileges and duties of a local Spiritual Assembly as set forth in this instrument.  

Section i. Each newly-elected local Spiritual Assembly shall at once proceed in the manner indicated in Articles IV and 

V of these By-Laws to the election of its officers, who shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and 

Treasurer, and such other officers as the Assembly finds necessary for the conduct of its business and the fulfilment of 

its spiritual duties. Immediately thereafter the Secretary chosen shall transmit to the Secretary of the National Assembly 

the names of the members of the newly-elected Assembly and a list of its officers.  

Section 

2. 

The general powers and duties of a local Spiritual Assemb y shall be as set forth in the writings of 

Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’lBahá and Shoghi Effendi.  

Section 3. Among its more specific duties, a local Spiritual Assembly shall have full jurisdiction of all Bahá’i activities 

and affairs within the local community, subject, however, to the exclusive and paramount authority of the National 

Spiritual Assembly as defined herein.  

Section 4. Vacancies in the membership of a local Spiritual Assembly shall be filled by election at a special meeting of 

the local Bahâ’i community duly called for that purpose by the Assembly. In the event that the number of vacancies 

exceeds four, making a quorum of the local Assembly impossible, the election shall be held under the supervision of 

the National Spiritual Assembly.  

Section 

The business of the local Assembly shall be conducted in like manner as provided for the deliberations of the 



National Assembly in Article VI above.  

Section 6. The local Assembly shall pass upon and approve the qualifications of each member of the Bahá’i community 

before such members shall be admitted to voting membership; but where an individual is dissatisfied with the ruling of 

the local Spiritual Assembly 

 

372 THE BAHA’f WORLD  



upon his Bahfl’i qualifications, such individual may appeal from the ruling to the National Assembly, which shall 

thereupon take jurisdiction of and finally decide the case.  

Section 

‘. 


On or before the 1st day of February of each year the Secretary of each local Assembly shall send to the 

Secretary of the National Assembly a duly certified list of the voting members of the local Bahfl’i community for the 

information and approval of the National Assembly.  

Section 8. All matters arising within a local Bahá’i community which are of purely local interest and do not affect the 

national interests of the Cause shall be under the primary jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly of that locality; but 

decision whether a particular matter involves the interest and welfare of the national Bahfl’i body shall rest with the 

National Spiritual Assembly.  

Section 9. Any member of a local Bahfl’i community may appeal from a decision of his Spiritual Assembly to the 

National Assembly, which shall determine whether it shall take jurisdiction of the matter or leave it to the local 

Spiritual Assembly for reconsideration. In the event that the National Assembly assumes jurisdiction of the matter, its 

finding shall be final.  

Section 10. Where any dissension exists within a local Bah.â’i community of such a character that it cannot be 



remedied by the efforts of the local Spiritual Assembly, this condition shall be referred by the Spiritual Assembly for 

consideration to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose action in the matter shall be final.  

Section ix. All questions arising between two or more local Spiritual Assemblies, or between members of different 

Bahâ’i communities, shall be submitted in the first instance to the National Assembly, which shall have original and 

final jurisdiction in all such matters.  

Section 12. The sphere of jurisdiction of a local Spiritual Assembly, with respect to residential qualification of 

membership, and voting tights of a believer in any Bahfl’i community, shall be the locality included within the dvil 

limits of the city, town or village, but Bahfl’is who reside in adjacent, outlying or suburban districts and can regularly 

attend the meetings of the local Bahfl’i community, may be enrolled on the membership list of the adjacent Spiritual 

Assembly and enjoy full voting rights pending the establishment of a local Spiritual Assembly in their home 

community.  

All differences of opinion concerning the sphere of jurisdiction of any local Spiritual Assembly or concerning the 

affiliation of any Bahã’i 

 

THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 373  



or group of Bahá’is in the United States and Canada shall be referred to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose 

decision in the matter shall be final.  

Article 



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